President Moon Jae-in held a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday, and they agreed to seek joint research to link Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway with the inter-Korean railways. President Moon has thus kicked off an initiative to draw a new Korean Peninsula economic map aimed at expanding cooperation with North Korea ahead of Pyongyang-Washington denuclearization talks set to go in full swing. The South Korean president also made it official his push to form a South Korea-Russia free trade agreement in service and investment.
The two leaders held the summit at the Kremlin in Moscow, and adopted a 32-ponit communiqué that included these plans.
Moon and Putin have agreed to a plan on joint research to link railroads, power networks and gas pipelines in a bid to earnestly implement three-way cooperation among South Korea, North Korea and Russia. As a result, Seoul and Moscow will likely examine in earnest a project to link South Korea, North Korea and Russia from Vladivostok to Seoul and all the way to the South Korean port city of Busan via the North’s Najin port. If sanctions against Pyongyang are eased following execution in full swing of nuclear dismantlement by the North that promised “complete denuclearization” at the North Korea-U.S. summit in Singapore, Seoul plans to immediately launch economic cooperation projects in transportation, logistics and energy to interconnect South Korea, North Korea and Russia.
With North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly having discussed North Korea-China economic cooperation through his third visit to China, analysts say that Seoul is seeking to secure negotiating power vis-à-vis Pyongyang through the three-way cooperation among South Korea, North Korea and Russia. However, critics raise concern that it is uncertain whether such plans to expand economic cooperation will actually materialize, considering that Pyongyang and Washington have yet to hold working-level talks to discuss the North’s denuclearization measures following the Singapore summit.
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